There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

Creating Your Fantasy Bible April 13, 2013

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 4:54 pm
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Some people call it a Bible. Others call it their Grimoire. Some simply call it what it is: their personal encyclopedia. Whatever the case may be, the importance is still the same.

Now that you’ve created your world, you need to have a place to go back and reference it. This is so important for continuity in your world. How do I know that? Because I am still working on creating mine. What does that mean? That every time I need to mention where my warrior race or my healer race originates from, I end up scouring the 2 1/2 books I’ve written in the series to try to find it.

So in a sense, I am definitely the pot calling the kettle black here. But I am confident that with these helpful tips (that I fully intend on following one day), you won’t have the same problem I do of having to hunt through your words to try to find one small instance where you mentioned something about your world.

The first question to answer is: What should be included in my reference bible grimoire? The answer is simple: Everything. Characters, geography, races, creatures, magic, government, society…Indeed, everything you can think of. Everything you create in your magical world.

I know, that’s a bit overwhelming, so we’ll start small and work our way through the list. We’ll start with characters and what details should be included in there. I’ve already started on this part. You don’t need to include every word your characters say, but you do need essentially a mini-biography for them. Here’s a nice check list to use as you create sections for each character (major or minor):

  • Key descriptors of their physical appearances
  • Important aspects of their personality (extremely sarcastic? shy?)
  • Key points in their character development
  • Birthdays
  • Race
  • Family information
  • Love interests
  • Place of birth or being raised (or both)

As you can probably tell, your encyclobibliogrimoire needs to be pretty intensive. Of course, you can always go the light route but I prefer to be thorough so I don’t miss anything and have to hunt (again). You can go digital or hard copy, but if you go digital make sure you back it up. I prefer to use Scrivener for mine since the program offers a really neat way to organize everything. Next time we’ll talk about some of the other important things to include, but for now hit the comments and let me know how you’ve made your encyclobibliogrimoire!

~Mara Valderran
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5 Responses to “Creating Your Fantasy Bible”

  1. Alex Wells Says:

    I’m struggling with my WIP at the minute, so this seems like a fun exercise that will really help me get to know my world better! I’m going to start with family trees! Excellent post!

  2. Yeah, since there are different levels to my world, I designed a rudimentary map and labelled them with the kind of activities/social classes/industry that takes place on my world. I have such a poor memory that I really rely on my index cards–for everything to hair to eye colour to personality quirks…it’s all there…! Being a copy editor, I’m a big fan of continuity/consistency in regards to characters and settings….

  3. kathils Says:

    I should really do this. I end up putting details I’ve forgotten in brackets as I write, and then need to go back through umpteen pages looking for that missing link! Hmm . . .

  4. I know this is a good idea because I’ve done it. It’s invaluable for all the reasons you’ve mentioned. What I have are six notebooks. One is about characters and contains physical, psychological, and historical information. Another contains my world’s history. There’s one that’s marked geography, but basically is everything there is to know about the physical world along with maps. There’s another devoted entirely cultures/races/creatures. There’s a glossary notebook that’s self-explanatory. Last is a notebook devoted to magic including its natural laws, how it effects the host, and physical items associated with magic. I’m always adding to all of them so they’ve become a bit of a mess with all the revisions and additions. At this point the history notebook must be several hundred pages long. I figure that if I can’t keep it all straight how is the reader supposed to keep it straight? It also adds depth to the story because you don’t feel the need to over-explain. You can casually mention topics without fearing you’ll forget the details later because you already have the details elsewhere.

  5. Timm Says:

    I don’t start a story without one. While I may not outline overly much (if at all), the first thing I do is make a Series Bible. And I add to it as I go, if I use or do something that’s not mentioned in the bible but might need to be referred back to.

    Again, couldn’t imagine starting without one.


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